The Inter-model Cooperation between the Brightspace, GeneBEcon, and RATION Projects were presented and discussed on 29 August 2023 at the pre-congress workshop of the XVII EAAE Congress in Rennes, France.
The three EU Horizon-funded projects Brightspace, GeneBEcon, and RATION presented their work and cooperation in economic modelling, tackling issues related to the Farm to Fork Strategy.
The EU Farm to Fork Strategy aims to speed up the transition to a sustainable food system. The Strategy targets a 50% reduction in the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50%, which should be achieved by 2030.
The collaboration of the three project focus in particular on the economic modelling of the regulatory alternatives for new genomic techniques (GeneBEcon GA Nr. 101061015), low-risk pesticides (RATION GA Nr. 101084163), and their implications for the measurements of environmental and economic impacts at farm- and market- levels (Brightspace). The workshop aimed at presenting the prospects for collaborative modelling work, highlighting identified challenges, and providing an example for ongoing modelling work based on state-of-the-art general equilibrium modelling techniques and applications.
Prof. Wesseler provided an introduction to the workshop by presenting the key EU climate change and agriculture policies followed by a brief review of existing studies that analysed their expected economic impacts. To mitigate potential negative welfare effects of F2F Strategy, institutional change in regulatory policies is crucial to stimulate investments in new technologies that keep agriculture within planetary boundaries.
New genomic techniques (NGTs) are an example of innovative solutions that could address the required reduction in pesticide use and contribute thus to sustainable agriculture. Dr. Kardung explained the key contributions of NGTs for reaching Farm to Fork targets and introduced the objectives of the GENEBECON project. To unlock the full potential of the NGTs, regulatory framework would need to be adjusted. A matrix was presented that described six regulatory options according to six criteria. Then, it was shown how these options influence the costs and benefits of developing a new gene-edited product. Especially, the uncertainty concerning the costs and length required for a product’s approval has wide-ranging economic implications. NGTs are a promising new technology, but their impact still has to be assessed, specifically with regard to their regulatory environment.
Low risk pesticides, e.g. pesticides developed from biological substances represent an alternative solution for reaching F2F targets. Dr. Cingiz presented objectives of the RATION project that aims to develop a novel Risk Assessment (RA) scheme for established and emerging LRP solutions (microbial pesticides, including microbiome solutions, plant extracts including pure bioactive plant metabolites, semiochemicals, pheromones, ds-RNA pesticides), and to conduct a socio-economic and market impact analysis of the collective and harmonized RA at the EU level and beyond.
With several promising technological solutions at hand, the question is how can these be integrated into economic models for supporting the design of effective and sustainable strategies to keep agriculture within a Safe and Just Operating Space (SJOS). Dr. Müller introduced the conceptual framework of BrightSpace project and highlighted some challenges in defining and operationalizing the SJOS and in aligning different types of models within the BrightSpace toolbox. A key challenge will be the appropriate representation of novel plant protection measures and their respective regulatory frameworks.
Dr. Smeets Kristkova provided some insights into the recent study using the Computable General Equilibrium model MAGNET aimed at simulating impact of F2F targets supporting the need for new technologies and speeding up of technology transfer to make these targets feasible.
Dr. Müller highlighted the challenges of farm level analysis to account for analyzing novel plant protection technologies in the light of F2F policies. Apart from the cost of the new technologies for farmers and the anticipated reduction of the active ingredients targeted by F2F, the potential impact on average crop yields will be an issue to be addressed. To conclude, several areas of collaboration among the three projects where identified, such as data exchange, shareholder platform, model development or scenario analysis.
As an important issue raised by the audience was the plausibility of the Farm to Fork targets to be met by 2030 given that the regulatory procedures for implementing new technologies slow down substantially this process. A question was raised as to which of the regulatory options presented by Dr. Kardung are most likely to be adopted. It is difficult to make any predictions, but adopting a new regulation will certainly take several years.
Several other questions were targeting to modelling – how are the BrightSpace toolbox models interlinked with the different technologies and how the scenarios for New Gene Technologies will be implemented in the MAGNET model. Further discussion points were the implementation input-saving technology in MAGNET and other simulation models and the projected slow-down of primary agriculture production in the EU in this decade and the related decline of fertilizer and pesticide inputs as was shown in the example of the MAGNET application.
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